Since I was diagnosed with severe, aggressive prostate cancer two years ago and then went on chemotherapy to try to lengthen my life, I've been plagued by chronic, severe pain in my extremities. Nueropathy such as this is a common side effect of treatment with docetaxel, a chemo drug that has been used for decades to treat breast cancer. While killing cancer cells, it also damages nerve cells. I use 5 different drugs to deal with the pain, two of them narcotics. The narcotics I currently take are Opana time release (oxymorphone...a molecule or two away from Dilaudid) and generic Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen) for what's known as breakthrough pain. They allow me to actually get out and do things; shop, go to the gym, have lunch with a friend, clean house, and do what I feel up to and, yes, do something as simple as brush my teeth and shower. I've never used heroin.
These are serious drugs and not too distant from heroin. I understand and respect that and I haven't always had the best relationship with narcotics. But I need them to function as a result of my disease and the ensuing treatment. I've always loved Saturday Night Live. They've pushed the edge from the beginning. But they crossed a line with their "Mom uses heroin" skit. There is nothing funny about it. Too many people need pain killers and can't get them so they turn to the street. Too many people don't need pain killers and go to pill mill clinics to get them. Too many "pain specialists" are lured by the money and the ethical, compassionate pain specialists who work so hard to help their patients are pushed into a very narrow corner. And, most seriously, too many people die from heroin use every day in this country. But addiction and subsequent death isn't funny and it hits too close to home to this terminal cancer patient, SNL.